A “POWER GROUP” GETS KICKED IN THE FACE IN IRELAND
For a complete explanation of the term “Power Groups” read Dr. Pinna’s article, soon to be published.
By SARAH LYALL, from the New York Times
DUBLIN – If there were people walking around during the national election on Friday who were passionate supporters of the ruling party, Fianna Fail, they were doing an excellent job of keeping it secret.
“I think Brian Cowen was probably the worst taoiseach (LEADER) we’ve ever had,” said David Ryan, 76, a retired businessman, using the Irish word for prime minister and speaking of Fianna Fail’s former leader.
“I am totally angry,” Mr. Ryan went on – not just at Mr. Cowen, who resigned last month, but at the Irish banks whose spectacular debts his government promised to guarantee on a fateful day in 2008. “They were totally corrupt.”
The results of the election will not be announced until late Saturday. But an early exit poll predicted a crushing defeat for Fianna Fail, one of modern history’s most successful political parties, which has been in power for almost 60 of the last 80 years, most recently from 1997 until the present.
“From the perspective of the population, the desire to remove Fianna Fail is enormous,” said Alan Barrett, a research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, an independent study group in Dublin. Or, as Paula Sheary, a 20-year-old sales assistant at a boutique selling women’s formal clothing (“Up to 70 percent off!” said the sign outside) put it: “They let us down. They just brought greed, greed, greed.”
Mr. Cowen has become for many a hated symbol of the policies that led to Ireland’s current predicament and to its precipitous fall from prosperity to ruin.
Unemployment is up to 13.8 percent (it was as low as 4.2 percent as recently as 2005); public spending has been savagely and repeatedly cut since 2008; the deficit has risen to 14.3 percent; and current predictions suggest that 100,000 people will emigrate in the next several years, from a population of 4.3 million.
The bill from the struggling banks may, in the end, total upward of $135 billion (100 billion euros,) in an economy with a G.D.P. of $220 billion 160 billion euros.
HOUSING BUBBLE (READ, BANKS CHEATING)
The housing bubble that fueled the boom has collapsed, along with the banks that made the loans that led to it in the first place. In November, the country was forced to accept a humiliating and onerous $92.8 billion (67.5 billion euro) international loan package that tied it to a brutal four-year austerity program.
The package came with such unfavorable interest rates that some economists feel the country might be unable to afford even to service the debt.
POOR DECISIONS BY GOVERNMENT (READ, POWER GROUPS)
Many of these problems can be directly attributed to poor decisions made by the government, said Diarmaid Ferriter, a professor of modern history at University College Dublin.
“There has been a complete and utter lack of leadership in Ireland,” Professor Ferriter said. As for Fianna Fail, he said, “They’ve actually managed to alienate all sections of our society.”
An early exit poll conducted for RTE, the state broadcaster, had the country’s main opposition party, the center-right Fine Gael, drawing 36.1 percent of the vote – the most of any party, but short of the overall majority needed to govern alone. It will most likely rule in a coalition with the more centrist Labour Party, which, the RTE poll shows, is on track to receive 25.1 percent of the vote.
A NEW LEADER
Meanwhile, Fianna Fail is polling at 15.1 percent – compared to the 42 percent it won in the 2007 election. If Fine Gael does win, the new prime minister will be the party’s leader, Enda Kenny, who was first elected to the Irish parliament in 1975, and who served as tourism and trade minister in the 1990’s.
Though Fine Gael (pronounced FEE-na gayle) has traditionally had few ideological points of difference with Fianna Fail (pronounced FEE-anna foil), Mr. Kenny has successfully dissociated himself from the government’s policies and ridden the country’s wave of wrath and disgust.
“The feeling is that this is a day of revenge, a day of reckoning,” said Tom McDonnell, a policy analyst with TASC, a study group that examines the social implications of economic policies.
Mr. Kenny has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the loan package, particularly the portion that comes from the European Union and carries an interest rate of 5.83 percent – far higher than what Greece, in similar straits, is being charged. Mr. McDonnell said the plan felt more like the Versailles Treaty, which imposed draconian conditions on Germany after World War I, than like the Marshall Plan, the American program to help rebuild Europe after World War II.
Although Europe has not said whether it would agree to renegotiate the deal, it may have to in order to keep Ireland solvent, Mr. Barrett said. Under the current conditions, he added, the country’s debt is expected to constitute more than 100 percent of its G.D.P. by 2012.
Ireland has little leverage in Europe these days, experts say, but one thing it can potentially do is threaten to renege on its financial obligations. “The idea would be that the finance minister could go and say, ‘Look, we can’t take this anymore, so unless you give us some sort of break, we’re going to unilaterally default,’” Mr. Barrett said.
Such a move would imperil the loan package and have disastrous repercussions beyond Ireland.
“The only difference between us and the German banks is that they don’t yet know the full horror of what is happening to them,” Mr. McDonnell said. “It will come down to pragmatism on the part of our European partners. If they do conclude that Ireland might become insolvent, it becomes necessary for them to renegotiate the deal.”
Mr. McDonnell said that many friends in their 20s and 30s had already abandoned Ireland, along with other professionals who felt they had a better chance of finding work abroad. People regularly hold “emigration parties,” that have the feel of wakes, he said; television stations broadcast people’s “last words to their loved ones” as they stand in lines at the airport ready to fly out. “It’s really heartbreaking,” he said.
Irish law forbids candidates to electioneer on the day of the campaign. But this week, Mr. Kenny warned that even with a change of government, no one should expect a magical transformation in Ireland’s fortunes.
“You are not going to walk into a situation on Feb. 26 where suddenly the sun shines on everybody and the warmth is on our backs economically,” he said.
Dr. Pinna says:
This is an excellent example of Power Groups failing in one European country. But, Power Groups are failing everywhere… in Europe, the U.S., North Africa and the Middle East. Ultimately, they will fail across the world, including Asia and South America.
Soon to be published, is an article that I am writing, explaining the history and meaning of Power Groups–How they operate and why they must ultimately fail. This will be a “Must Read.”